NRI's passport enough proof to establish identity for voting in 2019 elections

Setting the speculations to rest about identity proof required for NRIs for the purpose of voting in upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission of India has clarified that passport will be deemed as sufficient proof of identity.

A copy of the instructions translated in the vernacular language will be supplied to each of the Presiding Officers.
A copy of the instructions translated in the vernacular language will be supplied to each of the Presiding Officers. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

The clarification comes close of on heels of other recent clarification in which EC said there was no provision of online voting for NRIs as being publicised by a section of media.

"Overseas electors shall have to produce their original passport only for identification," EC said while declaring Photo Voter Slips "will not be considered valid as stand-alone identification document" for voting.

The EC  has directed that all electors in all constituencies who have been issued Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) have to produce the Electors Photo Identity Card for their identification at the polling station before casting their votes.

Those electors who are not able to produce the EPIC shall produce one of the following 11 alternative photo identity documents for establishing their identity. The list of eleven documents is:

  • Passport
  • Driving License
  • Service Identity Cards with photograph issued to employees by Central/State Govt./PSUs/Public Limited Companies
  • Passbooks with photograph issued by Bank/Post Office
  • PAN Card
  • Smart Card issued by RGI under NPR
  • MNREGA Job Card
  • Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of Ministry of Labour
  • Pension document with photograph
  • Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs
  • Aadhaar Card

To assist the Voters, the Commission has further directed its officers that in the case of EPIC, minor discrepancies in the entries therein should be ignored provided the identity of the elector can be established by the EPIC.

If an elector produces an EPIC which has been issued by the Electoral Registration Officer of another Assembly Constituency, such card shall also be accepted for identification, provided the name of that elector finds a place in the electoral roll pertaining to the polling station where the elector has turned up for voting.  

If it is not possible to establish the identity of the elector on account of mismatch of photograph, etc. the elector shall have to produce one of the above mentioned alternative photo documents.

On earlier occasions, the Commission had allowed Photo Voter Slip as a document for identification. However, there have been representations against its use as a stand-alone identification document on the grounds of misuse as these are printed after the finalisation of the roll and distributed just close to the poll through Booth Level Officers. The design of Photo Voter Slip does not incorporate any security feature.

In fact, Photo Voter Slip was started as an alternative document as the coverage of EPIC was not complete in earlier years. Currently more than 99 per cent electors possess EPIC, and more than 99 per cent adults have been issued Aadhaar Cards.

Taking all these facts in view, Commission has now decided that Photo Voter Slip shall henceforth not be accepted as a stand-alone identification document for voting.  However, Photo Voter Slip will continue to be prepared and issued to electors as part of the awareness building exercise.

In order to make it clear to the electors that Photo Voter Slips shall not be accepted as a stand-alone identification document for voting, the words "This slip will not be accepted for the purpose of identification in a polling station. You are required to carry epic or one of the 11 alternative documents specified by the commission for voting.” shall be printed on the Photo Voter Slip in bold letters.

Taking all these facts in view, Commission has now decided that Photo Voter Slip shall henceforth not be accepted as a stand-alone identification document for voting.
Taking all these facts in view, Commission has now decided that Photo Voter Slip shall henceforth not be accepted as a stand-alone identification document for voting. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

All Returning Officers and all Presiding Officers are being informed of these instructions. A copy of the instructions translated in the vernacular language will be supplied to each of the Presiding Officers.

The Order shall be published in the State, Gazette, immediately and publicised through print/electronic media for information of the general public and electors immediately and at very regular intervals till the date of polling.

Author
Pradeep Rana
Pradeep Rana – Senior Correspondent

Pradeep Rana has worked as a journalist with news ​agencies UNI and PTI, newspapers Indian Express and The Times Of India, and television channel NHK as South Asia Correspondent. He has also worked as Media Analyst at US Embassy, and edited several magazines and a medical handbook.

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